09/07/2004, 00.00
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Chechen leaders' relatives say stop terrorism, punish massacre perpetrators

Moscow (AsiaNews) – Events in Beslan have had an unusual and unexpected impact in Chechnya. The local population, which had largely backed the actions by Chechen terrorists, seems to have turned against them. Separatists' families, including those of anti-Russian resistance leaders such as Maskhadov, Basayev, Umarov –who are thought to have orchestrated the Beslan attack– have publicly condemned the actions of their relatives.

Pamzan and Ruslan Maskhadov, cousins of former Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov called on him to end terrorism. "Today, life is back to normal in the Chechen Republic. It is possible to work and receive a salary," the two brothers said. "Consequently, the reasons for terror are neither present nor justified." They urged Mashkadov to put an end to his actions once and for all and stop the gangs "who have killed hundreds of innocent children." They also asked Ossetians for forgiveness.

Zholzan Abdulkadyrova, Aslan Maskhadov's sister, appealed to her brother telling him to stop the crimes against helpless people. In the early phase of the Beslan crisis, Ms Abdulkadyrova had offered herself as a hostage in place of the children held. "Chechens," she said, "do not want to be the enemies either of Ossetians, Ingushs or Russians."

Junus Kurazov, deputy mufti in Chechnya's Vedensky district and husband to Shamil Basayev's cousin, expressed his solidarity with the people of North Ossetia. "These child-killing gangsters are terrorists and should be punished. These people will never receive forgiveness for their sins; only Almighty Allah might do it." He added that "terrorism has no national or ethnic colour. Whoever they are, no matter their nationality, ethnicity or religion, they should be punished."

In his Vedensky mosque, mufti Kurazov led Friday prayers for the murdered children and the people of Ossetia. "Ossetians have always helped Chechens, and in these heavy days, Chechens must pray and support them," Kurazov said.

Umar Gudaev, Basayev's father-in-law, and Nasir Sideev, husband to Basayev's aunt, joined Kurazov in expressing their outrage. "The terrorists have crossed the point of no return into the world of cruelty and brutality. They have used weapons against defenceless children and women," they said.

Relatives of Doku Umarov, another Chechen leader suspected of involvement in the Beslan attack, have also condemned the terrorist actions.

Despite the genuine revulsion on the part of terrorists' relatives anger and resentment have boiled over and led some Chechens to prepare reprisal attacks against rebel leaders' relatives. "Their lives were in danger," said Ilya Shabalkin, official representative of the Russian federal counterterrorist services (FSB), "and we had evidence that 'spontaneous groups' were being formed in various areas of Chechnya to kill Chechen leaders" relatives. However, because of our preventive actions we were able to take them into protective custody and save them from retaliation," the FSB general said.

The death of the innocent has provoked sorrow and angst throughout Chechnya. Many Chechens have joined the chorus of voices condemning the Beslan attack. Several demonstrations have taken place in the republic to denounce the terrorists and condemn the massacre. One demonstrator was quoted as saying: "As Chechens we can relate to what happened in Beslan. And we are ready to help the people hurt by the terrorists." (AF)

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Venting emotion and asking questions after Beslan
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Ossetia: Orthodox bishop working to release hostages
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